Newcastle Light Rail
|Owner||Transport for NSW|
|Locale||Newcastle, New South Wales|
|Transit type||Light rail|
|Number of lines||1|
|Number of stations||6|
|Began operation||17 February 2019|
|Number of vehicles||6 Urbos 100 trams|
|Train length||32.96 m (108.1 ft)|
|System length||2.7 km (1.7 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in) standard gauge|
The Newcastle Light Rail is a light rail system in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, running from Newcastle Interchange through the central business district to Pacific Park. Major construction commenced in September 2017 and the line was opened on 17 February 2019. It is operated by Newcastle Transport for Transport for NSW.
History - Trams
Newcastle first had trams from 1887 until 1950, when the final line, the waratah line, was replaced by buses. At its peak, the system ran to Speers Point and West Wallsend. It was mostly served by trams of the LP design, rebuilds of the F class trams from Sydney. Only a few, namely 154 and 284 are in preservation, with 154 being operational at the Sydney Tramway Museum. 284 is located at the Newcastle Museum.
History - Railway line
In December 2012, the Government of New South Wales announced its intention to close the line east of Wickham with the closure of Wickham, Civic and Newcastle stations. The line closed between Hamilton and Newcastle stations on 25 December 2014. A permanent terminus, Newcastle Interchange, was constructed adjacent to the former Wickham station, opened on 15 October 2017.
Two options were put forward for the light rail route – reusing the heavy rail corridor or using an on-street route. In May 2014, it was announced a light rail line would be built using a predominantly on-street route. About 500 m (1,640 ft) of the existing rail corridor east of Wickham station was reused, before the light rail proceeds along Scott and Hunter Streets to terminate at Pacific Park in Newcastle East.
The decision to use a predominantly on-street route drew mixed reactions and led to speculation that the railway corridor could be sold to property developers. It also went against the advice of Transport for NSW, which supported reusing the heavy rail corridor and advised the government that an on-street route could cost almost $100 million extra and deliver a slower service. In December 2014, the Government announced that Newcastle City Council would have the final say in determining any future development in the former rail corridor.
The replacement of the heavy rail line with light rail has also been controversial. Several newspapers in the Hunter region led a campaign to retain the heavy rail link. Newcastle City Council was initially supportive of the light rail project, but following a mayoral by-election in November 2014 the council advocated retaining the heavy rail line instead.
In August 2015 Transport for NSW put out a tender for a technical advisor to assist in the development of this project. Registrations of interest for companies to design and construct the Newcastle Light Rail were called in January 2016.
In December 2014 it was estimated that construction would commence in late 2015 but by January 2016 the date had slipped to the second half of 2016. In April 2016 it was stated that major construction would start in 2017 and be complete in 2019. Establishment of a site office commenced in February 2017. Major construction started around the middle of 2017.
A list of stops along the route was released in April 2016. Stops proposed are: Newcastle Interchange, Honeysuckle, Civic, Crown Street, Market Street and Pacific Park. Each light rail vehicle will carry at least 100 passengers. In July 2018 an alternate list of names was published where Market St could be Queens Wharf and Pacific Park could be Newcastle Beach.
In April 2016 CPB Contractors, Downer Group, John Holland, Laing O'Rourke and McConnell Dowell were shortlisted to bid for the contract to build the infrastructure. Downer was awarded the contract in August.
The government announced in April 2017 that the trams would use on board energy storage technology to allow the majority of the line to operate without overhead wires. This differs from the approach used in the wire-free section of Sydney's CBD and South East Light Rail, which powers the trams via a proprietary ground-level power supply technology.
Construction of the light rail was completed by the end of September 2018. A free community open day for the public was held on 17 February 2019 with regular services commencing the next day.
A fleet of six Urbos 100 trams operate the service. The trams consist of five modules and are 33 metres long. The trams were purchased by exercising an option under the rolling stock contract for Sydney's Inner West Light Rail. The Newcastle variant of the vehicles includes technology to enable wire-free operation, onboard surfboard racks and a different livery.
On weekdays, trams operate every 7–8 minutes during and between the peaks, and 15 minutes in the early morning and evening.
On Saturdays, trams operate every 15 minutes from 7am to midnight, and 30 minutes in the early morning.
On Sundays, trams operate every 15 minutes from 7am to 7pm, and 30 minutes in the early morning and evening.
Newcastle Interchange is a transport interchange situated in the inner suburb of Wickham. It serves as the termini for NSW TrainLink's Central Coast & Newcastle Line and Hunter Line train services, Newcastle Light Rail services and a number of Newcastle Transport bus routes.
Honeysuckle station is located adjacent to Honeysuckle Drive and Hunter street in the inner city suburb of Newcastle West. The new station provides direct access to TAFE NSW (Hunter Street campus) as well as bus connections located not far from the station on Hunter Street.
|11||Customs House, Newcastle||Charlestown|
Civic station was constructed in front of the former Civic railway station on Hunter Street. The railway station was originally built in 1935 and was serviced by the Newcastle railway line until 2014 when it permanently closed as a railway station. The new light rail station was built strategically in the geographical heart of Newcastle.
Civic light rail station is located on Hunter Street in the Newcastle CBD providing direct access to a number of inner-city attractions including Newcastle City Hall, Newcastle Museum and Newcastle Civic Park.
See Queens Wharf for transport connections.
Newcastle Beach station is located on the corner of Scott Street and Pacific Street, adjacent to Pacific Park in the inner-city suburb of Newcastle East. Other attractions nearby include the Foreshore Park located on Wharf Road. It was initially to have been named Pacific Park.
Several options to extend the network were released in April 2016. The options were:
- Newcastle Interchange to Broadmeadow station
- Newcastle Interchange to Mayfield
Other proposals made by the community include extensions to John Hunter Hospital, University of Newcastle at Callaghan, Newcastle Airport, Glendale, Merewether and a CBD loop. Transport for NSW stated that these routes suffered from high costs and engineering challenges.
In March 2020 an updated report was released by Transport for NSW on the business case for extension of the line. Media reporting identified that the "most suitable" route for an extension is from Newcastle Interchange to John Hunter Hospital, but that there was "no urgent need" to extend stage one following economic assessments.
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- Iemma backflips on Newcastle rail decision as Cabinet set to meet ABC News 21 February 2006
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- Newcastle Light Rail Announced Transport for NSW 23 May 2014
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- Map Fairfax Regional
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- Newcastle Light Rail finished by end of the month Transport for NSW 17 September 2018
- It's a date – free community open day for Newcastle Light Rail on 17 February Transport for NSW 31 January 2019
- Light rail in Newcastle opening from Monday 18 February Transport for NSW 3 February 2019
- McKinney, Max (27 October 2019). "Newcastle Transport operator Keolis Downer confirms light rail services will be revved up for Newcastle 500". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 3 November 2019.
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- Wickham station demolition underway ahead of light rail depot Newcastle Herald 26 May 2017
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- Newcastle Light Rail Vehicle Unveiled Newcastle Herald 29 March 2017
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- "Newcastle Light Rail" (PDF).
- Newcastle Interchange Transport for NSW
- "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Honeysuckle Light Rail Transport for NSW
- "Newcastle Transport route 11". Transport for NSW.
- "Newcastle Transport route 12". Transport for NSW.
- CARR, MATT (14 June 2018). "Civic Theatre is the first completed Newcastle light rail stop". Newcastle Herald. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Civic Light Rail Transport for NSW
- Crown Street Light Rail Transport for NSW
- "Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved 30 June 2018.
- Queens Wharf light rail stop NSW Geographical Names Board
- Queens Wharf Light Rail Transport for NSW
- Newcastle Beach light rail stop NSW Geographical Names Board
- Newcastle Beach Light Rail Transport for NSW
- "Newcastle's public transport future – April 2016". Transport for NSW & UrbanGrowth NSW. Archived from the original on 18 April 2016. Retrieved 8 April 2016.
- "Newcastle Light Rail Extension Strategic Business Case Summary Report" (PDF). Transport for NSW. Retrieved 18 September 2020.
- "Plan identifies most suitable route for Newcastle light rail extension". Rail Express. 30 March 2020. Retrieved 2 May 2020.
Media related to Light rail in Newcastle, New South Wales at Wikimedia Commons